2023 Desert Exposure Writing Contest


Editor’s Note:

This year I would like to share the words of a southern New Mexico writer addressed to other writers in the area. Christophe Maso is the author of “The Scream of the Butterfly,” a gothic speculative fiction novella that came out last year. He wrote this as part of a longer letter to the editor about a negative experience and I was touched by his message of hope to all struggling writers:

I and my wife moved to Southern New Mexico in 2019, seeking temporary refuge from the pandemic. We were delighted to find such a warm and welcoming community, and an artistic community alive with artists of all types – musicians, painters, sculptors, actors, filmmakers, writers, poets – as well as venues dedicated to supporting all of them, and providing space to make their work available once it was safe to do so.

Then I had a negative experience while trying to share my work at an area venue. The situation worsened with every effort I made to right things with the proprietors and never was satisfactorily resolved.

The creative path is one where you have to develop a graceful resilience, and thick skin. In addition to rejection, frustration, self-doubt, and the constant effort it takes to develop your talent, you will likely encounter jealousy, judgment, power-tripping gatekeepers, and people eager to exploit you and your talent for their own gain.

Whether it's Silver City, Santa Fe, or some town between them in size, art is human, and so its energy is human – with all the extraordinary, and banal, traits that come with it.

So, don't be discouraged. In the world of creative endeavors, you will sometimes encounter people whom you need to work around. Leave your ego on the side of the road, surround yourself with people who get your work and can help you succeed, and expose yourself to the work of others. Keep creating, give free samples now and then, and use the internet to make your work easy to find for all of the people who'll be grateful that you did. Collaborate with others, pitch in and get involved with artistic organizations and events if you have the time, and if your talents include organizing, why not create your own?

Christophe Maso, Silver City, 2023

Desert Exposure Writing Contest